Zyprexa and Insomnia

by on July 1, 2012

Insomnia is a condition wherein a person has trouble falling asleep or is unable to get a refreshing sleep. Some people may be able to fall asleep but would wake up often through the night and have trouble going back to sleep. Waking up too early in the morning can also be a sign of insomnia.

Does Zyprexa Cause Insomnia (or Trouble Sleeping)

Insomnia or difficulty sleeping is a common side effect of Zyprexa (olanzapine), often reported by people taking this medication for treatment of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Clinical studies conducted in Zyprexa have shown that up to 12 percent of people taking the drug reported insomnia. However, up to 11 percent of those who took placebo or ‘dummy pills’ also reported insomnia. In addition, most patients treated with Zyprexa may have insomnia even before the medication. So, it is not certain whether the insomnia is indeed due to Zyprexa or some other factors. The clinical significance of insomnia also remains unknown.

If you are taking Zyprexa and you develop insomnia, it is important that you consult your healthcare provider. Trouble sleeping is not just a simple side effect. It can be a sign of clinical worsening or a potential suicidal ideation. Patients, significant others and caregivers are recommended to report insomnia to their healthcare provider especially when accompanied by other symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, aggressiveness, unusual behavior, mood changes and worsening of symptoms. These symptoms may require very close monitoring and possibly adjustments in the medication regimen.

Managing Insomnia While On Zyprexa

If Zyprexa causes trouble sleeping, there are some things that you can do to help reduce this side effect. Here are some helpful tips for you to get a better sleep:

  • Develop a regular sleep-wake cycle. Follow a sleeping schedule and try to wake up around the same time of the day.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine at least 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
  • Avoid stimulating physical activity or exercise within 2 hours before bedtime. Exercising early in the day or six hours before sleep may help you sleep better.
  • Avoid large meals before bedtime.
  • Do not sleep in the afternoon.
  • Ensure a quiet, dark room that is conducive for sleeping.
  • If you can’t sleep do some quiet activity within 20 minutes but avoid stimulating activities.
  • Engaging in some sleep ritual 30 minutes before bedtime such as warm bath, reading, or listening to a soft music can help make you sleep fast.

It is difficult to know or predict whether a person will develop insomnia or not. Also, some conditions treated with Zyprexa, such as schizophrenia, have insomnia as a symptom. So it is challenging for your healthcare provider to know if insomnia is due to the medication or the condition being treated.

If you experience severe insomnia, your healthcare provider may recommend including sleep aides in your treatment, adjusting your dosage, or switching to another antipsychotic drug. However, never stop taking Zyprexa because of insomnia. It can cause recurrence of your condition.